Days Went Around

Day 15 of Summerfest came up just gorgeous, if maybe a bit humid.  I got up early and did some work, because I knew we were hitting the Shank Stage tonight for the Deadstring Brothers….

…What?  Who’s telling me Summerfest is only 11 days?

Sigh.  After all this time, it still isn’t apparent that Summerfest is held in the heart, and the head, and the ears?   There are bits of Summerfest in the brats you grill all summer, in every beer you drink while the sun shines on you (and even while the rain falls on you), and in the speakers you haul out on the porch to annoy the neighbors.

Wear your Summerfest grin all summer, friends, and we shall dine on Hot Links.  Sunburns may fade…

So, (and I recognize that this will likely engender ANOTHER argument with Zelmo, but sheesh, he just doesn’t deal with change or levels of gray, does he) but yes, after the 11th day, life seemed a bit less bright, and less noisy.  So Rory and I got tickets for the Deadstring Brothers at Shank Hall, and for one night it was the Shank Stage of the Fest.

…but you know, this might be a good time for….

Summerfest 2013 Wrap-Up and Kiss Goodnight.

1.  Too much rain.

2.  Not blisteringly hot like last year.

3.  Famous Dave’s rolled the Hot Link off their menu

3A.  But Bombers came on the grounds, and their Tots are simply awesome.

4. The beer selection got weaker (and see my prior post for a screed about fill levels)

5. The BMO stage is, hands down, teh best outdoor music venue in the state.  The Marcus Amphitheater is looking dingy in comparison.

6. Robots.

7.  The pourers at the east end of the Water Street Brewery pavilion were the BEST.

New bands I got new stuff:

And what other bands did we see?

Oh, did I mention that this year saw the return of Comedy to a stage at Summerest?  Yeah, it was a test firing, with one day, one stage, but Lewis Black was headlining and the stage was the BEEMO stage, so it was awesome.  Black was not the best I had ever seen him, but I attribute that to being drunk after spending too much of the day on the grounds.  His opener, though, had THREE different stories about crapping his pants.

The terrible horrible hateful thing about Summerfest is that between the scheduling and the sheer effort that it takes to do this kind of thing for 11 days straight, that for every band I listed up there, there were one or two others that I couldn’t see.  Sometimes, it was physically painful.

After all that (and Zelmo, being hateful of change will also argue this) I must say that after two years of a new schedule, I am very appreciative of skipping that one Monday in there.  It was always a weak day, and the only thing usually recommending it would be the low crowds; but with the change, the First Day happens on a Hump Day, and then in the middle, after a strenuous weekend, there’s a day of rest to stay off your feet and answer all the emails wondering where the fuck you have disappeared to.

That’s a lot of fracking music there, normally I would include some videos, but we all have lives.  I put links in there; meet me halfway and follow them for some musical exploratory excellence.  I guarantee you will find something you like in that linkstrosity.

So.. back to the 15th day of Summerfest.  My great and good friend Rory and I went out for some incredible Hooliburgers, then walked up the street to look at the progress of one of my projects.  The we drove a few blocks south to the Legendary Shank Hall because we wanted to make sure we could get a table amongst the LITERALLY DOZENS of people there for the Deadstring Brothers show.  And one guy who thought it was Arlo Guthrie…

The opener, Musikanto, was really good.  the changing back and forth from guitar to keyboard was kind of tiresome though.  But the band was tight and like I said, he was good.  Check him out at the link; I certainly did.

The members of the Deadstring Brothers looked like extras from Dazed and Confused.  The opened with a gritty a cappella version of a John Prine song, then proceeded to scrub our heads with the country-rock-boogie-punk that… well, I was gonna drop a ZZTop reference here, but that ain’t right.  Rory says that when he plays the band for people in his cab, they think it’s old Rolling Stones; although I heard it on a couple of the slower songs, that’s not the reference I hear. {–also, Rory will insist that I mention that I turned him onto the band with the first album, that I loaned him, that he got all their other releases, while I remain stuck on that one—}

Look, these guys are on Bloodshot Records, out of Chicago.  Bloodshot claims to be home to Insurgent Country, and who would dispute that?  They whelped the Waco Brothers, the unholy spawn of Wreck, Jesus Jones, the Mekons, and The Rumour, and are home to Murder By Death, Exene Zervenka, Robbie Fulks and Jon Langford.  And the Deadstringers really fall right the hell into the middle of that….

The played a muscular and energetic version of country.  Several Merl Haggard songs fit the bill quite well.  They were bemused at the Thursday night crowd, who were small but enthusiastic, although non-dancing.  A couple of times they mentioned playing southern honky-tonks and dancehalls, where the crowds were less restrained albeit dangerous; no thrown bottles in Milwaukee! But Kurt, the singer, did say it was kind of like playing a library (being a gentlemen, he said it as kind of weirdly enjoyable).  after that, we got more excitable.  Kurt mentioned that his mom grew up in Milwaukee, even if he grew up in Detroit (“I have extended family all over this place. Ummm, none of them are here, because they don’t really like me) and the drummer was born in West Allis.

Yeah, I said Kurt, because the band are all now Friends of Zombie.  Because we hung after the show, signing shit and drinking.  We talked about the sever wear on their guitars, about why they only had one pick between the two guitarists tonight, the Big Strong Bass, and the benefits of being happy with well whiskey.  We all promised to see them again (and nobody could really remember whether they had ever played Milwaukee before).

The music was country, and rock, and punk and mainly it was just what a road-hardened crew of musicians played for a small crowd.  And a fair amount of Merle Haggard…

They rocked, they did.  they liked us, we liked them.  And My! Didn’t we all have a wonderful time!


One response to “Days Went Around

  • Oregon Beer Snob

    I guess it’s Punk/Country (or is that Country/Punk) Friday, ’cause I posted some stuff from that genre at my place too.

    And I’ll just note that if you just declared the first day of Summerfest as “New Year’s Eve” then you could have 365 days of Summerfest.

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